Thoughts and Tools

Curriculum design - 2

In my last post, I explored what it might look like to design an 11th grade Bible course using a 3-column table suggested by Fink (2003).  This week, it is the same course, but using the templates and concepts introduced by Wiggins & McTighe (2005) in Understanding by Design (or UbD).  So, here goes!

Stage 1 – Desired Results

Established Goals:

  • Learners will move in a Godward direction by growing in their understanding, appreciation of, and application of Biblical teaching.
  • Read the book of Romans and understand the main arguments and advice Paul teaches.
  • Understand how their own beliefs and choices compare with those presented in the book of Romans.

Understandings. Learners will understand…

  • That Paul’s arguments are as relevant today as when they were first made.
  • What the controversies in Romans are.
  • How we think affects the choices we make in both big and small ways.
  • What a Biblical worldview is.

Essential Questions:

  • What are the themes of Romans?
  • How does our culture agree or disagree with the teachings in Romans?  What about you?
  • How do you resolve the apparent conflicts in Romans?
  • What would a culture look like if it was opposed to the teachings in Romans?  How does that compare to our world now?
  • What’s your plan for understanding more of the Bible?

Students will know…

  • What the background to Romans is and why it was written.
  • Definitions of key terms like grace, faith, law, justification, atonement, righteousness, Calvinism, Armenianism, Compatibilism, sovereignty.
  • What a worldview is and how it affects a culture’s assumptions and thinking.

Students will be able to…

  • Identify major thematic elements through critical reading.
  • Use the context of Biblical passages to determine semantic range and meaning of unfamiliar words.
  • Use their own words to describe the logical development of the book of Romans.
  • Evaluate conflicting theological interpretations of Romans
  • Contrast their worldview with a Biblical one.

Stage 2 – Assessment Evidence

Performance Tasks:

  • Create outlines for sections of the book of Romans
  • Reflect on the level of agreement between their personal views and those of the Bible.
  • Choose to support and defend a theological stance using the Bible and logic.
  • Create imaginary worlds that compare and contrast their own world and understanding with other, idealized, worlds that may either align or oppose Biblical teaching.

Other Evidence:

  • Classroom discussions
  • Bible reading responses
  • Reflective writing assignments

Stage 3 – Learning Plan

Learning Activities:

The number and diversity of learning activities involved in teaching the Book of Romans (which is 16 chapters long) would be immense.  Each chapter requires

  • Refocusing;
  • a reflection on previous chapters;
  • re-energizing effort and motivation to find new depth;
  • reading and summarizing the text;
  • possibly reading supplementary texts in order to provide the necessary background needed to understand the references being made by Paul;
  • reflecting on the meaning and depth of the added chapter;
  • analysis of difficult concepts;
  • evaluation of the implications and application of these concepts;
  • and much more.

So, without adding any variety or even much depth, I would need over 120 different bullet points to flesh out teaching this material.  I don’t think this is the place to put that level of detail down, so will leave it as a skeleton for now.


That’s the design…but not what I think about it.  So here’s a bit of reflection on the two.

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Curtis White, M.S., M.C.E.
High School Faculty
Math, Science, Bible & Computers
Abundant Life Christian School
A Madison Christian School